Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame opinion
Both the single and tandem versions of the AE AdvancedFrame kayaks are well-made. They are made with quality materials and they perform really well on the water. They are slightly heavier than other inflatable kayaks due to their hybrid build, but still portable enough to take out on day trips from your vehicle or house if you’re like me and live near a lake or river. It also inflates relatively quickly – about 7-8 minutes total, which is pretty good for an inflatable kayak of this complexity. This is a great kayak for a lot of different activities.
The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame sit-inside kayak is a so-called hybrid between a folding and an inflatable kayak, since it has solid parts (aluminum frame and plastic inserts) surrounded by the inflatable body.
Honestly, the AdvancedFrame is one of my favorite inflatable kayaks. It is not without faults, but I feel the value and performance you get for the money is outstanding.
Let me tell you why.
Features of the AdvancedFrame Kayak
The AE AdvancedFrame line consists of 2 kayak models: a single person (AE1012) and a tandem (AE1007) kayak called AdvancedFrame Convertible. They share all characteristics, with the tandem version being longer of course.
There is also a Convertible Elite version (AE1007-E), which simply denotes that the tandem kayak comes with a drop-stitched floor.
The AE AdvancedFrame is a so-called hybrid kayak. Its inflatable tubes house an integrated aluminum frame and removable plastic plates in the bow & stern.
The inflatable body is made of PVC-coated polyester, covered by a thick, waterproof fabric layer on the deck.
The kayak’s fabric exterior layer has thickly reinforced seams and feels much thicker and sturdier than the fabric of other similar kayaks. Neoprene paddle guards protect the body further.
The kayak has 7 air chambers:
- One inner and one outer air chamber makes up the main body. A dividing wall separates these chambers, so if the outer section is punctured somehow, the inner one stays inflated so you can reach the shore safely.
- Floor chamber (with pressure relief valve)
- Two smaller chambers for the coaming rim
- Two smaller chambers for the deck lift
The cockpit of the single paddler model is reasonably large. You can put a small amount of gear in the bow. You can even open the cockpit cover with a zipper to make entering easier and close it afterward.
The tandem model’s cockpit is obviously much larger.
The inflatable coaming rim around the cockpit becomes pretty hard after inflation.
You can attach a sprayskirt to the AdvancedFrame, which is rare in the inflatable kayak world.
You won’t be doing Eskimo rolls with this kayak, but it brings many advantages under specific circumstances:
- staying warm during winter paddling
- staying dry on whitewater and rough seas
If the above sound like things you would be doing with your kayak, getting a sprayskirt is a good idea.
What does the AdvancedFrame Backbone do?
The AdvancedFrame Backbone is available as an add-on accessory for around $95. It is a pole made of four pieces, which you need to place under the floor chamber BEFORE inflation. When you put the kayak on the water and sit into it, your weight will push the Backbone down, forming a V-shaped hull you would see on hard-shell kayaks.
The net effect of the AdvancedFrame Backbone is better directional stability and higher speed.
It is not a good idea to use it all the time, though:
- If you paddle on slow rivers and lakes, you can equip the boat with the Backbone.
- If you go on wilder rivers or white water with possible ground contact, you should take the Backbone out.
The bottom hull has an extra plastic layer on it, making it thick enough to withstand rubbing against rocks and pebbles.
The hull has two permanently mounted fins:
- A larger fin at the stern.
- A flat elongated fin at the bow.
Even though they are not removable, grounding isn’t an issue since even the larger fin is relatively shallow.
When you take the AdvancedFrame out on the water, you’ll immediately notice how stable it is, even in waves. Capsizing is very difficult with this kayak, so it is excellent for beginners.
The low profile facilitates the feeling of being close to the water, as you would be in hard-shell sit-inside kayaks. Paddling becomes more comfortable, and it becomes significantly easier against the wind.
The tracking of the AdvancedFrame is fantastic for an inflatable kayak. The body shape, the Backbone, and the fins all do their part in keeping the yak in a straight line. It tracks better than other inflatable kayaks in this price range.
How fast can you go with the AE AdvancedFrame kayak?
I reached speeds of around 5-6 km/h with the single person version of the AdvancedFrame kayak. This single-person model is slightly slower than the tandem one since the longer hull makes it faster and creates better directional stability.
Where can you use the AdvancedFrame kayak?
The AdvancedFrame is a versatile kayak suitable for paddling on:
- Slow-moving rivers
- Class I-II rapids
- Coastal paddling
- Winter kayaking
Several of these use cases require special knowledge and skills, so make sure you get proper training.
The AdvancedFrame kayak offers ample space and legroom, but tall people above 6′ might find their legs cramped in the single kayak version. I am exactly 6′ tall, and it was just big enough for me. If you’re taller, the tandem version will be better for you.
The seat is comfortable, and the back cushion is high and nicely padded. You attach it to the side walls with two straps, so you can adjust it as you like.
I have two problems with the seat, though:
- There is no way to fix it to the bottom of the kayak, which means it may imperceptibly slide forward and back.
- The bottom cushion is very low, which means that if water enters the cockpit, you’ll be sitting in the water.
There are no foot braces in the Advanced Frame kayak, which I found weird at first. It is not bothersome, though. You can put your feet in the I-beam floor’s ridges and your knees against the sides of the boat to keep stable.
As for storing things on the AdvancedFrame, you have several options:
- The bungee deck lines on the front make it possible to safely and efficiently stow a dry bag or backpack.
- The backside has 4 D-rings for securing your gear.
- You get a sizeable storage area behind the seat.
- The back of the seat has a mesh pocket.
The kayak also has velcro paddle holders on each side.
Because of the aluminum frame and plastic inserts, AE AdvancedFrame kayaks are somewhat heavier than comparable inflatables. This kayak is not ideal for hiking to remote places with it on your back.
If this is an issue for you, Advanced Elements has an Ultralite version of this kayak. The difference is that the Ultralite has a foam floor, which makes it 18 lbs lighter. The tradeoff is that capacity is lower by 75 lbs, and you lose that much buoyancy.
The AdvancedFrame single kayak comes with a robust carrying bag, but unfortunately, it does not have a backpack strap. It is the perfect size for putting it into your car’s trunk, though.
The carry bag that comes with the tandem version of the kayak has backpack straps.
As with most inflatable boats, you also get a repair kit.
However, the package does NOT include a paddle, air pump, spray skirt, or the Backbone. These have to be purchased separately.
Setting Up and Breaking Down the AdvancedFrame kayak
Getting the AdvancedFrame set up seems like quite a chore, as there are seven air chambers to fill. It’s not as bad as it sounds, though, as four of them are small chambers that only need 1-2 pumps.
One annoying thing though is that Advanced Elements uses 2 types of valves on the boat. I know it’s because 3 chambers are large (needing a big valve), and the rest are small (so a small valve is better), but I don’t like to have to take and switch adaptors. Maybe it’s just me.
As I mentioned, the package does not include a pump.
It would be best to buy an air pump with a pressure gauge since the instruction manual (download it here) states each chamber’s exact PSI.
I recommend getting this excellent manual pump; I’ve been using it for years. You do not need an electric pump with inflatable kayaks, so save your money.
It takes about 7 minutes to assemble the AdvancedFrame kayak, here is a video on how to do so:
When dismantling the boat, pouring every last drop of water out of the cockpit before deflation is impossible. Having a dry rag to wipe the inside of the boat dry before packing it away is a good idea; otherwise, the wet PVC may become moldy.
The same goes for the textile cover. It is waterproof but remains slightly moist. Drying it thoroughly before storage will prevent molding and funky smells the next time you paddle.
The twist-locking valves Advanced Elements uses make deflation easy. You open the valves, and most of the air escapes by itself. You will force the rest of the air forced out when you roll the kayak up. Alternatively, you can use your air pump to pump out the air.
It takes around 2 minutes to deflate.
I had no problems folding this kayak up and fitting it back into its duffle bag after removing the rigid plastic inserts from the bow and stern. Just make sure you don’t fold the permanent fin, that should stay flat.
AE AdvancedFrame Single kayak (AE1012) vs Convertible (AE1007) specifications
The technology behind both models of the AdvancedFrame kayak is the same. The difference is in the size and capacity.
Here is a comparison between the single and tandem versions of the AE AdvancedFrame. The images below are to scale, check out how much longer the tandem is.
|Capacity||300 lbs||550 lbs|
|Size||32″ x 10’5″ (folded size: 30” x 17” x 10”)||32″ x 15′ (folded size: 35” x 21” x 12”)|
|Weight||36 lbs||52 lbs|
|Vinyl||Reinforced PVC Tarpaulin (600 D Polyester fabric sandwiched by layers of vinyl)||Reinforced PVC Tarpaulin (Polyester fabric sandwiched by layers of vinyl)|
What AdvancedFrame users say
It’s always useful to read what other people have to say about something you are considering, which is why you are here right now 🙂
I also looked through what these Amazon customers had to say:
- Tall people (above 6′) found the single-seat model didn’t have ample legroom.
- Several customers point to how durable it is even after years of use.
The manufacturer – Advanced Elements
Advanced Elements is based out of Sand Francisco, California. They manufacture their products in the Far-East, but their offices and support center are in the USA.
The company makes paddling products with cutting edge tech and holds patents for its innovative designs.
To be honest, this is rather short, as other premium brands offer at least 2 years.
Opinion of the AdvancedFrame kayak
The AdvancedFrame kayak is stable and fast. I found it enjoyable to paddle and comfortable on longer journeys. It tracks well even in wind and waves, thanks to its unique hybrid build.
It is suitable for beginners thanks to its stability and ease of paddling, but more demanding kayakers will enjoy it as well.
There are more expensive inflatable yaks that may be better in some areas, but at this price point, the AdvancedFrame kayak is a great choice.
I liked this kayak for everything it offered: versatility, performance, and quality at a fair price.